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British court rejects challenge to Northern Ireland’s abortion ban


Ruling follow southern neighbor's referendum to allow abortion to be legalized

Since the May 25 referendum in which two thirds of Irish voters opted to repeal a life-protecting amendment in the country’s constitution, there has been renewed pressure to overturn Northern Ireland’s strict abortion ban.

That effort hit a roadblock Thursday when the Supreme Court in the United Kingdom rejected an attempt to overturn the law, which bans abortion except when a mother’s life or health is in danger. There is no exception for rape or incest, or for situations in which an unborn child is not expected to live.

But the British high court said it could not overturn the law because this particular challenge, brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, lacked standing. Judges said it would have required the case to have been brought by a woman who alleged she was pregnant as a result of sexual crime or who was carrying an unborn child with a life-limiting condition that meant he or she may not live for very long outside the womb, explained the Irish Catholic.

However, a majority of the justices called the law “deeply unsatisfactory.” They said it was “incompatible with the right to respect for private and family life as guaranteed by the European convention on human rights,” the Guardian reported.

“The commission had argued the law criminalizes vulnerable women and girls and subjects them to inhumane and degrading treatment in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights,” National Public Radio reported.

Nevertheless, a pro-life group in the North, Both Lives Matter, welcomed the ruling. Dawn McAvoy, co-founder of the group, said, “it is not a moment to celebrate, but rather to pause and be thankful for the lives this judgment will save.

“The Supreme Court has dismissed the case brought by the Human Rights Commission,” McAvoy said. “In doing so, it has made clear that there is no human right to abortion. All seven judges have also made clear that they would not have allowed abortion on the grounds of a serious malformation of the unborn child.”

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